Small businesses face an increasing number of security threats and risks in today’s expanding digital landscape. As the use of the cloud and interconnected computing devices climbs with the spread of working from home or working from anywhere, security risks also rise.
Today, employees access and carry sensitive information on their laptops, phones and more, on home and public internet connections as often as secured business networks. This makes protocols like endpoint security and cybersecurity risk education vital for small businesses. Any threat can have severe consequences on small businesses in Australia if left unaddressed, and as small businesses comprise 97% of Australian businesses, there is much to be lost.
Consequently, cybersecurity is no longer a concern solely reserved for large corporations and institutions overseas. Small businesses in Australia must be aware of the ever-evolving landscape of security threats and take proactive measures to protect valuable assets, sensitive customer or client data, and their own intellectual property.
What are the biggest security threats to small businesses?
The ACSC (Australian Cyber Security Centre) states that Australian small businesses know that cybersecurity is important. However, they face barriers to implementing good security practices, including a lack of dedicated IT staff, the increasing complexity of cybersecurity, underestimating the risks, and an inability to plan for or react to incidents.
If you are a small business owner or employee and you don’t know where to start, our experts in Managed IT Services at FTG can help with any stage of your security journey. We can provide small business protection such as training and education, vulnerability management and assessment, endpoint threat protection, application security, network and perimeter security, data protection, and monitoring and response services.
What are 3 examples of security threats small businesses can face?
There are many kinds of threats that can pose a serious risk to small business security in Australia. From ransomware to phishing attacks to malware attacks, these cyber security threats can disrupt operations, compromise data, and lead to financial and reputational losses.
In Australia, the ACSC receives a cyberattack report once every ten minutes; they estimate businesses lost more than $300 million per year. A 2019 IBM report revealed that businesses with less than 500 employees lost on average $2.5 million per attack. This can be devastating to a small business, with consequences stretching years into the future if the business survives.
Businesses with less than 500 employees lost on average $2.5 million per attack.
Three examples of security threats that small businesses in Australia are facing right now are ransomware, phishing attacks, and various kinds of malware.
Ransomware attacks have become one of the most prevalent and destructive cyber threats, and it is a rapidly evolving threat. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that gains access to a user’s system or data, locks or encrypts it, then holds said data to ransom against the user, usually in return for a significant payment.
It has been a major cybersecurity concern globally, and Australia is not immune to it. Various sectors such as government agencies, healthcare organisations, educational institutions, telecommunications companies and businesses of all sizes – including small businesses – have been targeted by ransomware. In fact, some studies have found that small businesses are a preferred target, as enterprises have tighter security measures.
As ransomware attacks become more sophisticated, so must businesses’ education and response.
Phishing attacks are deceptive attempts to obtain money or sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, financial details and data, and more. They account for 90% of all breaches that organisations face, and over $12 billion in financial losses. Those perpetrating such attacks frequently disguise themselves as trustworthy entities, tricking people into revealing this confidential information using social engineering techniques.
These phishing attacks can target individuals or organisations, and can come in the form of personal or business emails, SMS or text messages, social media messages, and even voice phishing messages. Voice phishing can take the form of attackers posing as credentialed strangers like bank officials and government agencies – however, with modern technology, attackers may even be able to clone a trusted person’s voice.
These kinds of cyber threats can give rise to what is termed ‘insider threats’ or ‘spear phishing’ – when targeted employees or trusted individuals either intentionally or unintentionally compromise an organisation’s security.
Malware refers to any kind of malicious software designed to gain unauthorised access to computer systems or damage them. Small businesses can easily fall victim to various kinds of malware, such as:
- Viruses – self-replicating programs that corrupt or delete data or allow unauthorised access to systems
- Worms – standalone programs that exploit security vulnerabilities, consuming network resources and slowing down systems
- Trojans – can appear as desirable or legitimate software, but create backdoors for unauthorised access, steal sensitive information, or enable further malware installation
- Adware – displays unwanted advertisements and pop-ups, often generating revenue for attackers
- Spyware – designed to monitor and collect information about a user’s activities without their consent, tracking keystrokes, capture login credentials, record browsing habits, and capturing sensitive data
What are the top 3 security concerns that small businesses need to consider when designing their business networks?
When setting up their business networks, small businesses in Australia should pay close attention to these three security concerns to begin with: network security, endpoint security, and cloud security.
Protecting a small business’ network from unauthorised access is crucial, both on the company’s property and beyond. Implementing firewalls and anti-malware software, secure Wi-Fi networks, and strong authentication measures such as 2FA (two-factor authentication) or MFA (multi-factor authentication) and password vaults can help defend against cyber attacks and data breaches. In today’s dispersed work environment, individuals must be educated and assisted to take part in these network security measures as well.
The same can be said for endpoint security measures. Small businesses often have multiple endpoints, including laptops, desktops, and mobile devices. Ensuring that these endpoints are protected with up-to-date password protection, antivirus software, regular security patches, and encryption measures is essential.
Furthermore, with the increasing adoption of cloud services, small businesses must secure their data stored in the cloud, not only on devices. Employing strong access controls, encrypting data in transit and at rest, and regularly monitoring for unauthorised access are vital for maintaining cloud security.
Small businesses must prioritise things like business continuity as well as regulatory compliance when it comes to security. The Australian government considers cybersecurity infrastructure a necessity for entities taking ‘reasonable steps’ to satisfy legal obligations with regards to information security and privacy protection.
Good security practices are no longer ‘nice to have’, but ‘must have’.
The ACSC found that nearly half of their survey respondents spent less than $500 a year on security, suggesting many small businesses take a DIY approach to their cybersecurity. However, they suggested that it is wise to engage with an experienced security partner to ensure your protocols and compliance meet industry standards, so you’re both aware of threats, and you’re ready to respond to them promptly and fully.
By partnering with experts in security management such as FTG, organisations can come to understand the biggest security threats, consider key security concerns in designing and protecting business networks, and take proactive steps to mitigate cybersecurity risks and safeguard operations. Implementing robust security measures, regular staff training, and staying informed about emerging threats will help small businesses build a strong defence against security threats and ensure long-term business protection.
Talk to us now to get a free assessment of your security services requirements.